The Times highlights the Imperial Tea Court in Berkeley as a coffee alternativeWith local newspapers in deep decline everywhere, the New York Times has been doing its part to capitalize on these dying markets. The Bay Area is no exception, as evidenced by today’s story on local teahouses: Bay Area Teahouses Offer an Exotic Break from Coffee –

So why quote a tea article, you ask? With sentences such as, “Om Shan Tea is the newest of a breed of Bay Area teahouses that are reimagining the world’s ancient and diverse tea drinking customs for modern tea drinkers,” you might think some third wave tea gag cannot be far behind. But we’re actually citing the article for this line:

The Bay Area loves its coffee, but there is a certain sameness to its coffeehouses.

Nearly three years ago we noted the problem of espresso sameness at Bay Area cafés. Namely: a select few roasters are typically dominating espresso purveyors at the high end, the roasting styles tend to be very similar among them, a select few espresso machine models are used to pull these shots, and still very few places offer the option of different coffees for your espresso.

Is tea the new water?

But the article then flirts with the ridiculous through the statement, “it’s too early to call tea drinking a trend that will replace espresso anytime soon.” Ah, the old “is tea the new coffee?” adage — for which there are over 7,000 citations on Google dating back to 1994.

We’re not sure how a beverage that has been consumed for thousands of years — and is the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water — could ever qualify as the new anything. But some wannabe journalists will try to fabricate a social trend out of breathing oxygen if they could.